Syria’s deputy foreign minister says militants plan a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday, will highlight the female victims and then pin the blame on Damascus. He accused the West of “only wanting to believe terrorists.”
“We have received information that militants plan to stage an attack between the districts of Mesraba and Beit Sawa. Tahrir al-Sham terrorists plan to sacrifice several women for this purpose and launch a disinformation campaign. The performance is thought to be scheduled for March 11,” Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, told journalists in Damascus.
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Earlier this week, the White Helmets, a self-proclaimed civil defense group, accused the Syrian government of staging a chlorine attack that affected 30 residents of Eastern Ghouta, a militant-held suburb of Damascus wrecked by intense fighting in the past month. The government, which regards the White Helmets as a foreign-funded terrorist propaganda organization, has rejected these claims.
Mekdad also railed against a report by the UN Syria Commission, made public on Tuesday, which accused government forces of using chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta in the six months prior to January 15.
“Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) specialists are appointed by the West and don’t want to know the truth,” said Mekdad. “Western countries were only interested in one thing – proving that the government used chemical weapons. This is despite us finding plenty of chemical weapon labs in formerly rebel-held areas. We have mentioned this plenty of times, but the West only wants to believe terrorists.”
Mekdad complained that, even when faced with hard evidence, experts refuse to attribute ownership of the weapons stocks to anti-government fighters and will often refuse to travel to areas where such evidence could be obtained, claiming it is “too dangerous.”
With Russian air support, Syrian forces have, in recent days, made major advances into Eastern Ghouta, held by anti-government forces since 2012. The government has called on the competing Islamist groups to surrender, release civilians, and stop the shelling of the rest of Damascus, which, according to Russian observers, has resulted in the death of one civilian and nine casualties in the past 24 hours.
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